When you’re pregnant, one of your biggest worries may be thinking about where to deliver your baby. Choosing a hospital for delivery doesn’t have to be overwhelming. As an expectant mum, you and your partner should have all the information you need before choosing where you have your baby. While it is most likely that the hospital you do your antenatal, which is usually the closest to the house or work place (your primary health care centre), is where you’ll have your baby. Whichever option you choose, the place should feel right for you.
Consider what can make your delivery day most comfortable. There are lots of hospitals to choose from, and hospitals offer a variety of services and amenities. Below are things to consider when choosing a hospital for delivery.
Choose your Doctor or midwife
The first step to having a good delivery is finding a doctor or midwife who will best support you during and after delivery. Call your insurance to see what doctors or midwives are covered.
Then talk to some of the covered doctors and midwives to see if you agree about key aspects of your delivery, like the type of delivery that’s best for your situation and the care you should have during and after delivery.
Get a list of hospitals from your Doctor or Midwife
After you get a list of hospitals, ask your doctor or midwife about their opinions. A doctor or midwife has usually performed multiple deliveries, and they will be able to tell you which hospitals will offer what you will need most during and after your delivery.
When choosing a hospital for delivery;
1. Examine the number of rooms available and whether the maternity ward is full most of the time, which could affect your length of stay.
2. Choose a hospital that supports your preferred method of delivery.
You can deliver via vaginal birth, C-section, or natural birth. Each of these types of delivery requires different levels of care. For vaginal birth, for example, you may want painkillers or anesthesia. For a C-section, you will need to stay in the maternity ward for a longer period of time. And for a natural birth, you will need a hospital that has birthing tubs.
Your midwife will discuss the options available in your area, but you’re free to choose any maternity service if you’re travelling abroad. [abroad
If you are interested in trying a vaginal birth but have previously had a C-section, choose a hospital with specialized trauma care because there is potential for complications.
3. Call a hospital to make sure specialized care is available if you need it.
If your pregnancy is considered to be high risk, inquire if a hospital has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). If the baby experiences any complications after birth, they will be put in this unit. You want to make sure the NICU is also staffed with nurses and doctors who are specially trained for critical care.
4. Ask if the hospital has accommodations for you and your family in the hospital in the event that your child must stay after you are released from care.
See if you can get a private room. After you’ve looked into hospitals that are covered under your insurance and that will ensure a safe delivery of your baby, start thinking about amenities a hospital will have that can make you feel more comfortable. A private room is one of these amenities. If your insurance covers private rooms, ask someone in hospital administration about the possibility of getting a private room for your delivery.
A private room gives you privacy and can be a more comfortable way of delivering.
5. Look at a hospital’s rules for visitors.
A delivery is a big event, and you will want your friends and family to be by your side to support you physically and emotionally. Look over a hospital’s rules for visitors to see if they have specific visiting hours, including night hours.
Some hospitals might also offer overnight accommodations for family and friends.
6. Search on a hospital’s website to see if they provide room service.
A delivery takes a lot of work. When you’ve finally delivered, you will probably be very hungry. Some hospitals offer 24-hour room service if you request. Room service is another way of making your delivery even more comfortable. Most hospitals will detail on their website if they have a room service program and how much it costs.
7. Ask if the hospital can assist with or allow videotaping the birth.
The birth of your child is one of the biggest events in your life. Maybe you want to videotape it. Not all hospitals allow you to videotape the birth, so if that’s important to you, ask hospital administration if they are okay with videotaping
8. Call and arrange a visit to the hospital.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices of hospitals, try visiting them at different times of the day. When you see a hospital in person, you can get a better sense of how big a room will be, how busy the maternity ward becomes, and how available doctors and nurses are.
After visiting, you’ll get more comfortable with a hospital, and comfort is most important when the big day comes. A visit to a hospital will also give you a glimpse of things you haven’t yet thought about asking for, like types of equipment and other amenities. (It’s nice to see the physical space, too, but don’t let the decor sway you too much – it’s unlikely that you’ll notice it, much less care about it, when you arrive in labor!)
A cordless fetal monitor is an example of available equipment you might not have thought about.
Other questions you can ask in advance include:
- Will I be able to labor and give birth in the same room?
- What are the hospital’s policies about things like continuous electronic fetal monitoring and routine intravenous hydration?
- Will my practitioner and I be able to decide what’s right for me?
- Is there an anesthesiologist or anesthetist at the hospital around the clock?
- How many women in labor does each nurse typically care for?
- How many support people can be with me in the labor and birth room? (Your partner will certainly be welcome in any institution, but if you want your sister, a best friend, a doula, or anyone else to be there, you should make sure early in your pregnancy that it’ll be allowed.)
- Will my baby’s siblings be allowed to attend the birth?
- Are there private postpartum rooms, if desired? Is one generally available? What’s the extra charge? (Unless you need a private room for medical reasons, your insurance won’t fully cover the cost, so you may want to find out how much you’ll have to pay if you opt for a single room.)
- Can the baby stay with me in my room 24/7?
- Can my partner stay with me in the room?
- What accommodations do you have for partners?
- What’s the visitation policy? Are there specified visiting hours?
There are a variety of ways to get this information. Ask the doctors or midwives you’re considering to be your caregiver. Talk to friends or family members nearby who have recently given birth to get their take on things. Call the hospital directly and ask to speak to a childbirth educator, if they have one. Or speak to other childbirth educators or doulas in your community. Some hospital maternity services also have websites with detailed descriptions of their services and policies.
After you get all this information, you’ll be able to decide and choose which option is best for you. Don’t be shy to ask too many questions you and your baby’s health and safety is number one priority.